C.G. Drews's Reviews > American Street

American Street by Ibi Zoboi
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really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, read-2017, young-adult

Oh wow this was so good and just a little bit like running face-first into a brick wall of EMOTIONS. I'n not even sure what to do with myself right now aughiagh. It's a really powerful story of immigration and poverty and family. It's a brutal and messy story and the ending left me reeling.

+ The emphasis on family was the best of ever.
Like this is not a "nice" family, particularly, but I loved how complex they all were!? Fabiola has immigrated from Haiti to America to live with her cousins. Her mum gets caught up in customs and sent to a detention centre, so Fabiola is basically just THROWN into American culture. I felt for her so much. Her three cousins are all around her age, and they immediately just adopt her as their 4th sister. But they do live in a poor part of town and they're mixed up in a LOT of stuff. Donna's boyfriend is like Such Bad News and hits her and Pri is closet (?) queer and Chantal has STUFF going on and like their aunt is a loan shark and just???? Fabiola truly gets thrown into it. (But seriously her cousins can be absolutely horrible at times...and then really nice?!?)

+ Fabiola is also really precious and sweet!
I was worried she'd be a passive character because of that BUT SHE'S NOT. I also loved how she really wanted to make America her home, But she didn't give up her Haitian heritage. There's like a bit of magic in the book (lowkey, I wouldn't call it magical realism?) because she firmly believes in Vodou and her culture is woven into everything she does. It's so good!! (Also the author's note says this is all out of her own experiences too!)

+ I basically couldn't stop reading.
And the story just got more brutal and twisted as it went along. Like the plot is really tight and I loved how it woven things together at the end. And by "love" I mean HELLO I AM SCREAMING. WHY DID YOU DO THAT.

+ So, in summary, it has:
• complex and dynamic female friendships
• rich cultural influences
• the absolute sweetest romance ever between Fabiola and Kasim <3
• it's really gritty and dark and is not messing about with telling you what life is like
• lots of people are awful
• there's whispers of belief in magic
• and PAIN

+ My actual only reserve is that I think the writing style has room to grow.
It was really good, don't get me wrong, but I just think it could've been a bit deeper at times and smoother. This is only a debut too, so I imagine great things for this author!!


ALL IN ALL: A purely excellent #ownvoices story that doesn't shy away from showing how complicated and brutal life can be. It's not an "easy" read (although it is quite fast!) and there were so many times I was raging with Fabiola. Argh. Her situation is often a trainwreck but I loved her character arc and also her love of her culture. Also I would 500% be there for the traditional Haitian way she cooked the Thanksgiving meal. Yes please.
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Reading Progress

December 13, 2016 – Shelved
December 13, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
December 4, 2017 – Started Reading
December 4, 2017 –
11.0% ""Let's just all go ahead and pretend I'm not reading this ARC 10 months late."
-- actual sentence to summarise my life"
December 5, 2017 –
82.0% "I AM THE OPPOSITE OF CALM RIGHT NOW. 😳😳😳"
December 5, 2017 – Shelved as: contemporary
December 5, 2017 – Shelved as: read-2017
December 5, 2017 – Shelved as: young-adult
December 5, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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Chrissy The audiobook was excellent too with the Haitian accent.


C.G. Drews @Chrissy: Ohh really!? That is so cool! I love re-reading so I will definitely look out for the audiobook at some point too!


message 3: by Celeste (new)

Celeste @lvie not to start an argument but legit that is some racist bs right there. To keep a stable population America must except certain amount of immigrants each year what jobs or professions they choose to pursue isn't their fault. No one is taking the American jobs because immigrants are American too. To disagree would you show your extremely naïve and prodigy prejudiced worldview. America is built on immigrants any white person in America it is descended from Imigrants because the true Americans are the native Indians, whom white ppl stole from them their land, killed and raped them, etc. The status of immigrant doesn't signal ill intent; any human, immigrant or not is capable of ill intent. If immigrants were ever to stop coming to America the American population would die out but not before thousands of companies and small businesses would go bankrupt, our economy would tank et Cetera. @lvie please prove to me that you actually have a passing knowledge in basic economics and human decency before you ever try to pull this racist bull again.


message 4: by Adi (new)

Adi @Celeste are you actually joking? no one is arguing against legal immigration. note the word “illegal”. which means “not legal”. which means that these people are breaking federal laws by their continued residence in the united states. if you want to change the laws to make immigration easier, sure. whatever. but when you use arguments like these, you insult actually legal immigrants who had to go through a long and arduous process to get here. to equate them with criminals (and illegal immigrants are, by definition, criminals) is incredibly unfair.


C.G. Drews @Adi: I will be deleting your comments after this. Please take your anti-immigration agenda somewhere else (like your own review).


message 6: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy Lou I totally agree with you on all of this! This book just murdered my soul. I... can’t... even. I sympathized with Fabiola so much and I only wanted the best for her. The cousins too, of course, but especially Fab. All she wanted was to be with her mom, and that Haitian Thanksgiving sounded incredible. I can’t imagine ever being angry with someone for making a delicious meal to show they care about you!


C.G. Drews @Amy: Yes! It was such a good book and so heart wrenching at times.


message 8: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim I have just finished it too and am sitting at my desk, staring at nothing. I too do not know what to do with myself :-)


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